Understand the risk factors and preventive measures you can take to prevent DVT while on long flights or sitting in the same place for a long time.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when blood flows too slowly through the veins. The blood forms a clot that blocks up deep veins, usually in the legs. DVT doesn’t generally have any immediate symptoms, making it difficult to spot. However, typical signs include a swollen or painful calf or thigh, paleness and increased heat around the affected area.
If left untreated, people with DVT are at risk of developing a pulmonary embolism, when part of the blood clot breaks away and travels to the lung, which can be fatal.
DVT (blood clots) high-risk factors:
- history of DVT or pulmonary embolism
- heart disease
- inherited tendency to clot (thrombophilia)
- recent surgery (pelvic region or legs)
- hormone replacement therapy
If you think you have a risk of developing DVT, see your doctor before you travel.
Tips to avoid DVT blood clots during long travel flights (greater than 4 hrs):
- Stay hydrated (drink water, not alcohol or coffee, which dehydrate)
- Move (get up and walk, or at least flex your feet up and down periodically throughout the flight)
- Wear properly fitted compression stockings. These should be at least 14 mm Hg or greater. Below knee or thigh high are fine.
- Consider taking low dose aspirin (81 mg/day) if medically appropriate